9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[kwib-uh l] /ˈkwɪb əl/
an instance of the use of ambiguous, prevaricating, or irrelevant language or arguments to evade a point at issue.
the general use of such arguments.
petty or carping criticism; a minor objection.
verb (used without object), quibbled, quibbling.
to equivocate.
to carp; cavil.
Origin of quibble
1605-15; perhaps derivative (cf. -le) of quib gibe, apparently akin to quip
Related forms
quibbler, noun
outquibble, verb (used with object), outquibbled, outquibbling.
1. evasion, equivocation, sophism, shift, ambiguity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for quibble
  • Whether the long-predicted double dip is looming or has already arrived is a quibble of semantics.
  • These kind backers rarely quibble over the network's content.
  • Historians quibble over details of the original library's demise.
  • Some might say the rear guard, but let's not quibble.
  • While you can quibble on moral grounds it won't convince a judge.
  • That's arguably a pretty vague mission, but the committee members were too busy agreeing with the speakers to quibble.
  • My quibble is with those who use theirs for long conversations, whether business or social.
  • My quibble is that the author underestimates the odds of the next step in the process.
  • Egalitarians quibble that the bulk of the money ends up with rich well-supported clubs.
  • All right, this is a quibble over a small place with multiple personalities.
British Dictionary definitions for quibble


verb (intransitive)
to make trivial objections; prevaricate
(archaic) to play on words; pun
a trivial objection or equivocation, esp one used to avoid an issue
(archaic) a pun
Derived Forms
quibbler, noun
quibbling, adjective, noun
quibblingly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: probably from obsolete quib, perhaps from Latin quibus (from quī who, which), as used in legal documents, with reference to their obscure phraseology
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quibble

1610s, "a pun, a play on words," probably a diminutive of obsolete quib "evasion of point at issue," based on an overuse of Latin quibus? in legal jargon, which supposedly gave it the association with trivial argument. Meaning "equivocation, evasion of the point" is attested from 1660s.


"equivocate, evade the point, turn from the point in question or the plain truth," 1650s, from quibble (n.). Earlier "to pun" (1620s). Related: Quibbled; quibbling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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